Tom joined the Citizens Utility Board in 2017 after working for more than 30 years as a journalist. He became interested in energy and what it costs households while sitting in the back seat, waiting for what seemed like forever, during the gas lines of the ‘70s. After graduating from Boston University’s College of Communication Tom worked at newspapers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before moving to Wisconsin. He reported on utilities and worked as business editor at the Green Bay-Press Gazette in the 1990s and then moved to Milwaukee, where he covered energy, utilities and sustainable business for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His reporting on energy and climate change won the National Press Club’s Stokes Award for Energy Writing in 2007. Tom and his family live in Glendale.
Why are you excited to be part of CUB?
So many reasons. As a journalist I always wrote about energy with consumers in mind, focusing on what they care about most. This fueled my desire to lead and reinvigorate CUB in a time of dramatic change in the energy world. Technological change in other parts of the economy is happening with energy, too, which makes it an exciting yet unsettling time. What thrills me about leading CUB is that we are giving consumers, from homeowners to apartment dwellers to small businesses, a voice in ensuring that policies and changes in the utility sector put customers first.
From a big picture perspective, why is CUB important to the state of Wisconsin?
Having an independent consumer voice is critical for Wisconsin’s system of regulating utilities to work effectively. Wisconsin was a pioneer in utility regulation as the first state in the nation to create a Public Service Commission (PSC) to regulate utilities, and the first state in the nation to create a Citizens Utility Board to ensure that the voice of the people is heard when the PSC regulates utilities.
CUB’s important for another critical reason, and that’s how unique our small non-profit organization is. Forty-four states use a state government agency like the Attorney General’s office or the Office of People’s Counsel to advocate on behalf of homeowners and renters in utility cases. And some of those states, including neighboring states Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, have multiple advocates, including a non-profit group like CUB plus a state government agency! But Wisconsin is just one of two states, along with Oregon, that relies on CUB alone to do this essential work. That’s why our role as Your Independent Consumer Voice is so critical to making utility service fair, safe, reliable and affordable for us all.